Friday, March 03, 2006

'Rabbi' amends prayer?

Timesdispatch: The opening prayer at the Virginia Senate was shortened yesterday because of remarks deemed politically sensitive.Michael Panitz, rabbi of Temple Israel of Norfolk, dropped a paragraph that referred to the winners of the recent election in Gaza as "the party of blood-stained hands."Hamas, which the State Department regards as a terrorist organization, won the democratic election.Panitz said he eliminated the paragraph at the request of Senate Clerk Susan Clarke Schaar."She said the message was strong enough without it," Panitz said afterward. He stood by the remarks, which he said were not political. Hamas is a terrorist organization, he said.Sen. Nick Rerras, R-Norfolk, who invited the rabbi to give the invocation, said, "There was concern the statement was too strong."The message appeared to get through."I think he's talking about Hamas," Sen. Frank W. Wagner, R-Virginia Beach, said after Panitz finished his prayer.A theme of Panitz's invocation was the uncertainty of democracy."As we prepare for the work of democracy, help us to recall that our chosen form of government is not in itself a cure for all that ails the human spirit, but rather a structure resting on a base of values," he prayed....The Senate and House of Delegates open each day with a prayer.The religious leaders, whom legislators invite, are asked to limit the prayers to 30 seconds and to tailor them to an ecumenical audience that reflects a diversity of religions. They are also asked to submit copies in advance."The staff looks at the prayers," Schaar said. "We have asked the ministers" to change their remarks in the past, she said.Bruce F. Jamerson, clerk of the House of Delegates, said his office does not request changes in the prayers.
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